Prior to the US's entry into WW1 (approx. 1917-1918) every male between
the age of 18 and 40 was required to register for the draft. The
information found on the card was provided by the individual himself.
The registration cards vary in information depending on the individual
draft board. But by and large the cards include: The full name of the
person (this means first, full middle name, any additional middle
names and last name); the current address of the man; his age; his birth
date (some include his place of birth); whether he is a US citizen or a
naturalized citizen (some ask if his father was a naturalized citizen
and his father's race); his race; his occupation; where he is employed
(name of employer); address or location of employment; name and address
of his next of kin; some cards ask if the man is married or single and
how many people he supports. The card is signed by the draftee. On the
back of the card his physical description is noted:
Height is broken down by short, medium, tall although some cards give
the actual height in feet and inches; Build by slim, medium, stout
although some cards list actual weight along with the build; color of
eyes and hair; any deformities or injuries are listed (such as one arm
missing, blind in one eye, etc.); the name and address of the draft
board and the date.
When these original cards were transferred to the East Pointe NARA
branch the LDS spent about 3 years microfilming these cards. There are
hundreds and hundreds of boxes and the LDS opened one box at a time and
filmed them - in state order. However, within each state the cards were
filed by draft board, not by county or by draftee. This makes the
searching of the microfilm difficult to say the least.
The good news is that the Friends of the National Archives took each box
after it was filmed (and checked) and sorted all of these thousands and
thousands of cards into - state and then COUNTY order and then in
alphabetical order by surname and put then in new boxes. The Friends
deserve all the kudos we can give them for this monstrous task.
So ... rather than spending hours and hours searching the LDS microfilm
you can order copies of the original cards from NARA. if you know the
county your ancestor lived in between 1917-1918.
And BTW - Ancestry.com lists WW1 Draft cards in their searchable data
bases, however I know for a fact that there are 22 cards for the surname
WHITE found in McIntosh Co, OK and Ancestry only gave me 4 of them so
don't depend on that site. I was told yesterday that some reps from
Ancestry had visited the archives a couple of weeks ago to talk about
filming the cards, took one look at the hundreds and hundreds of boxes
and simply left.
For copies: Send a letter requesting copy(s) to:
1557 St. Joseph Ave.
East Point, GA 30344
In your letter be sure to say you want copy(s) of the WW1 Draft
application Cards. Include the name of your ancestor and his race, the
state and the county. If you want copies of ALL of the cards with a
given surname, ask them the cost of the copies and send a SASE for them
to let you know the copying cost. In your letter be sure and say you
want a copy of the FRONT and BACK of the card. Be sure to send a SASE
for the return of your copies.
The cost for the copy is 50 cents - 25 cents for the back and 25 cents
for the front. If you only want one copy send a buck and say the
difference is to be given to the Friends of the Archives, because after
all they did all this wonderful hard work for you. (VBG)
The original draft card applications (registrations) for every state
(the entire US) are at East Pointe. According to the Archive Staff there
are no plans to split these cards and move any of them to any other NARA
location since East Pointe has been charged with the "custody" of these
It is only the original cards that are in state / county / alpha order.
Someone posted a message to one of the lists that NARA was planning on
re-filming the cards since they are now in state / county / alpha order.
If such a thing is underway it is unknown to the East Pointe archive
staff and they should know if such a thing was in the works.
If you request a copy of your ancestor's draft card from any NARA branch
other than this one they will be searching the LDS microfilm and you
will have to know the state and draft board for them to make a copy. It
is only at the East Pointe location that you can request a copy by state
and then county and the copy will be made from the ORIGINAL card.
Submitted by: Marilyn K. Hare from an original note written by Linda Haas Davenport, Marion Co, AK